The Restaurant Group Blog

Restaurant Consumer Trends: Dealing With Declining Lunch Sales

Restaurant Consumer Trends - Lunch Sales

Restaurant Consumer Trends

 

At your restaurant, you may have noticed a phenomenon that is definitively occurring nationally: lunch business is sagging a bit more than it used to.

According to market research firm NPD, lunch visits were down 4 percent at the end of the year, a notable decline in a broader context that has restaurant business in general sagging at all times of the day.

Why Lunch is Losing its Luster

Simply put, people have fewer reasons to leave their homes. Busy office workers are turning into busy home office workers, no longer commuting to business districts that tend to support a healthy community of restaurants. Working from home increased 24 percent over the last decade.

On the more casual end, one-time lunch customers who used to work in brick-and-mortar retail are largely moving out of that flagging sector and taking on work as subcontractors. Rideshare drivers, online customer service, and many more options are filling up the economic strata that once had a regular base of workers commuting to the same location every single day.

How to Attract New Lunch Diners

Value is the main driver. Yet diners aren’t looking for the cheapest food possible; fast food restaurants have also seen a decline during this same period because while people are dining out less, they’ve also raised their standards.

Here’s how restaurants can improve their lunch business: Customers want consistent quality, for lower prices. This is a tough proposition for restaurants to meet, but it isn’t impossible. Smaller lunch menus built around the most popular dishes lower overall food costs, streamline kitchen operations, simplify the server’s role, and keep regular customers happy due to all of those facts combining at once.

Focus on serving a few great dishes you know your customers love, cut out the food waste inherent to maintaining a larger menu, and you’ll likely see greater earnings on your lunch business overall.

 

For help with your restaurant contact TRG Restaurant Consultants.

Restaurant Feasibility Study: Why You Need One Now

Restaurant Feasibility Study

 

A restaurant feasibility study is an important step when considering starting a new restaurant. A simple feasibility study could save you time, money, and a huge headache.

What is a Feasibility Study?

A feasibility study evaluates the variables in a particular project, such as starting a new restaurant. The study takes into account the cost of material and labor. However, it doesn’t stop there; this study tries to identify every possible problem that could arise during the project. It inspects the market to determine if it will grow and evaluates the current competition. The study also looks at the business model to ensure that there are no issues with the plan. The study takes into account the skills and resources the investors provide in an attempt to determine if they have the tools to start and run a business. These are just a few aspects of feasibility studies. To see the complete list, visit The Restaurant Group.

Why Should You Get a Feasibility Study

It is important to understand your business plan and the market down to the most minute detail. A feasibility study will likely bring up issues that you didn’t realize were a possibility.

This study won’t just tell you if you have the funds to open a restaurant; it will inform you as to whether or not you also have the resources, tools, and market to open a successful restaurant. This knowledge is invaluable.

Feasibility studies give you the opportunity to be a step ahead of any issues. Solving an issue before it even becomes a problem, sets you up for success.

How to Get a Feasibility Study

If you are starting a new restaurant and want a feasibility study, visit The Restaurant Group to get more information and a free quote.

The Restaurant Group has 7 years of experience consulting with new and established restaurants across the country. This company is detail oriented and dedicated to provided exceptional services. The expertise that The Restaurant Group provides will surely be a vital tool as you begin your new business venture.

10 Key 2018 Restaurant Trends To Look Out For [Part 2]

2018 Restaurant Trends

2018 Restaurant Trends (Part 2)

The restaurant industry is constantly evolving and changing, from marketing to delivery, to service – each segment of the industry has experienced a massive shift. This will continue throughout 2018 and for restaurants to succeed, it is important to keep an eye on what trends are emerging in 2018. Here is part 2 of 2018 Restaurant Trends:

6) Upscale casual atmospheres will be on the rise

Restaurants will need to balance upscale options with casual ambiances going forward as that trend seems to continue full-steam in 2018. While casual upscale dining might sound a little contradictory, it does not need to be.

Restaurants should focus on striking a balance between premium ingredients and offerings while retaining a level of casualness in terms of the restaurant atmosphere itself to provide customers that experience. This could extend to keeping bookings and reservations somewhat casual and allowing for more walk-ins, or with its decor and music choices.

7) Greater focus on aesthetics

In a world driven by social media marketing, restaurants must absolutely focus on the aesthetic value of their food. While that does not mean that quality or innovation needs to take a backseat, but there must be a greater emphasis on presentation and looks of the dishes themselves.

With more users embracing visual platforms such as Instagram to document their experiences, restaurants must consider how to incorporate that into the overall dining for customers.

8) Healthy options for children

With so much focus on the millennial market, many restaurants have overlooked how to make their dining healthier for adults and children. That demographic holds a significant market share, so it is crucial that they are not left ignored.

With the increased importance of healthy food and diet, restaurants should also look for ways to provide children with healthier and creative food options. Parents will appreciate the effort, and that will go a long way in building long-term loyalty.

9) Local wine, beer and alcohol pairings

Alcohol is an important part of menus and many customers enjoy having a local feel with both their dishes and the alcohol they choose to pair it with. For 2018, restaurants should research and look for local options to provide this part of the experience and really innovate on how to showcase the best of what the area has to offer.

Whether it is partnering with local distilleries, wineries or breweries for long-term menu inclusion or even designing pop-up events to showcase local alcohol with food pairings, there are many ways to get creative with this.

10) Greater inclusion for those with dietary restrictions

Many restaurants have dragged their feet when it comes to updating menus to accommodate different dietary restrictions. However, many customers are increasingly choosing to go vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free – just to name a few and that means restaurants must adapt accordingly.

Consider taking a look at menus that have not been updated for a while to see where these options could be fit with existing options. Or consider adding new dishes that will be appealing to this new set of customers and how you can create a great experience for them where other restaurants may not be able to.

 

Contact TRG for your restaurant consulting needs.

10 Key 2018 Restaurant Trends To Look Out For [Part 1]

 2018 Restaurant Trends

2018 Restaurant Trends (Part 1)

The restaurant industry is undergoing a constant wave of change, especially with the evolution of digital technology. From marketing to delivery, to service – each segment of the industry has experienced a massive shift.

This will continue in 2018 and for restaurants to succeed in the new year, it is vital to keep an eye on what trends are beginning to emerge for 2018 and strategize on the best ways to leverage these for individual success. Here are just a few that are sure to dominate 2018:

1) A major focus on sustainability

One major aspect of the business that restaurants must focus on in 2018 is sustainability. Whether it is zero-waste cooking or improved efforts to recycle and reduce waste – sustainability must be at the heart of it.

Not only is it necessary from an environmental point of view, but it is something that greatly resonates with consumers and can be incorporated into the restaurant experience as a whole.

Savvy foodies enjoy knowing that the food they are consuming is created under ethical and sustainable standards and this can be a major force in marketing and advertising as well for restaurants themselves.

2) Constant innovation

The truth is, digital media has contributed to setting much higher standards when it comes to food, presentation and menu innovation among consumers. Customers want menus that have a global feel, a range of diversity and the knowledge that the restaurant itself is dedicated to innovating the food experience.

For some, this might mean incorporating more exotic and different ingredients (this could include grains, powders, and ashes – just to name a few). Or it might mean rethinking menu staples to offer a fresh twist on classic items.

3) A continual embrace of technology

From an operational standpoint, it is imperative that restaurants continuously embrace technology and incorporate it as best as possible for a seamless experience. Automating key parts of the restaurant experience is one facet of this, as is using technology to really understand the core of your business.

There is now a wide availability of data that can be used to improve the consumer experience and that will become a major factor for success for restaurants. Using data and technology to really understand your customers and their preferences, and creating a customer journey accordingly will be a major trend for 2018.

4) Customizing the experience

Whether it is more choices in ingredients or creating an experience through rewards or loyalty program, customization needs to be at the heart of every operation.

Restaurantgoers are now increasingly expecting a level of personal service with their food experience, and restaurants need to able to scale their technology efficiently to deliver on this. This could start from the very beginning of the customer journey when they book their table to when they arrive, but that element of a personal touch must be there.

5) Seamless delivery integration

Speaking of personalization, customers also enjoy a new level of convenience that was not present before. Restaurants should increasingly look for methods to integrate delivery options as well in order to reach wide customer bases.

This might mean partnering with local delivery agents, or even starting with smaller steps to integrate takeaway options for customers as a starting point to see the level of demand for other options.

 

Contact TRG for your restaurant consulting needs.

Tips on Starting a New Restaurant

Starting a new restaurant

Starting a new restaurant

Starting any kind of business can be challenging and, in many cases, outright daunting. Restaurants are no exception. Here’s an idea of what the process will entail.

Concept 

The first step in starting a new restaurant is developing a concept, which lays the groundwork for all that follows. You then need to design a plan of action. We at TRG can help you through our five-stage process:

  • Alignment — You’ll present to us your vision, as well as ideas for things like menu design, location and budget.
  • Research — We’ll compile a strategic list based on potential competition in your target market area.
  • Analysis — We’ll do a comparative analysis, pitting your restaurant against the competition.
  • Plan of Action — During a brainstorm session, we’ll create a plan of action that will include all aspects of your operation, including kitchen and bar design, menu, brand value, ideal location, and other requirements.
  • Reporting — We’ll help your restaurant achieve a smooth implementation and launch.

Brand

Here at TRG, we realize that brand is everything. It’s through branding that you convey your restaurant’s personality, paving the way for brand loyalty. We can help develop your brand and thereby create a lasting impression on your customers. TRG can provide services in such areas as graphic design and brand development.

Kitchen and Bar Design

A great kitchen design is essential for every restaurant, as it can help guarantee repeat business. Our consultants have real world experience and the know-how to help you design your kitchen and bar so you can generate repeat business. We can help you pick the perfect restaurant kitchen and bar design that both helps generate profit and reflects your brand and values. Don’t worry — we’ll guide you every step of the way.

Business Plan

A business plan is necessary to obtain funding for your operation. At TRG, we can help you craft a 20-30 pages business plan that we think could attract potential investors. Each plan, which we would deliver in both printed and digital formats, would include:

  • A mission statement.
  • A Business and Marketing Overview.
  • One- and Five-Year Sales and Profit Projections.
  • A Rough Draft of the Menu and more.

We’ll also provide you with a restaurant strategy plan, which will include 400 issues restaurant owners must address when they’re opening their business.

Feasibility Study

The next step would be a feasibility study to ensure that your concept aligns with your goal of maximum profitability. The study would include data and recommendations for such crucial elements as: local restaurant marketing potential, traffic count, possible location problems and solutions, demographics and identification of the target area, staffing potential, advertising options, direct and indirect competition, photos of the target trade area, and issues involving ingress and egress.

We can help you transform your restaurant idea into reality. For more information, please contact us.

Is Your Menu Intimidating? TRG Menu Development Can Help

TRG Menu Development

Menu Development

 

Have you ever sat down at a restaurant and opened up the menu only to find that your choices seem endless? Having too many options is often overwhelming. Even the most experienced Chef cannot possibly be well versed in all areas. The odds that your kitchen staff can serve world-class Sushi and BBQ up some killer ribs are slim, and your guests know this. A menu with too many items sends the message to your patrons that your establishment doesn’t excel in any one item, rather, it offers an array of mediocre items.

People like options and you should certainly give them some. Try limiting your menu to just a handful of items that your restaurant can knock out of the park. Doing this has several advantages that might surprise you. It cuts inventory costs and allows reallocation of those funds towards higher grade ingredients, thus increasing the overall quality of your product. Offering less menu choices also creates less memorization for your wait staff; decreasing the odds of mistakes which results in happy customers. Perhaps the most positive change is that this will brand your restaurant. You will now be forever known for the amazing niche items prepared unique to your restaurant. This will attract the people whom are truly interested in what you have to offer, and likely result in a positive reputation amongst your community. Another positive is that you can bump of the price of your dishes with confidence, generating more profit. Remember this: less is more.

The menu is the first encounter a guest has with a restaurant. Contact TRG Restaurant Consulting, to learn more about our menu development services and how we can help to ensure that all the dishes on your menu not only stand out for their own merits, but also work together to form a cohesive whole.

 

Use Customer Tracking to Keep Up with Local Consumer Trends

Customer Tracking

You’ve opened your restaurant, eagerly awaiting the first trickle of customers to start streaming in. They start showing up, singly, in pairs, or in large groups, and they seem happy with the experience. But when they leave, you may never see them again. If you aren’t keeping track of your new customers, you could be missing a serious cog in the revenue-making machine.

Customer Tracking Helps You Understand Your Consumers

Gone are the days of consumer complacency. These days, your customers want the best you have to offer. But offering the best isn’t as simple as it sounds – what exactly is “the best”? How can you improve the restaurant experience? What kind of customers like to frequent your place, anyway? Keeping track of your customers, through loyalty programs, social media, or even simple feedback cards, provides an invaluable understanding of your consumers.

Customer Tracking Heads off Dissatisfaction

When you know what your customers want, you are less likely to receive complaints. And when you have good feedback mechanisms in place, such as a Facebook page and even an email address where they can directly reach you, you are more likely to appease unhappy customers before they leave negative feedback and for a locally owned restaurant, negative feedback can mean the virtual death of your online reputation.

Customer Tracking Reminds Hungry Consumers That You’re Open

Customer tracking is a two-way street; it allows your customers to interact with you, and it allow you to reach out to them. Simply asking for customers’ email addresses can allow you to periodically send them alerts when you have a new menu item, a special is going on, or hours of operation are changing. Send these emails out at just the right times and to just the right customers – think late Friday afternoon for families, and Monday at happy hour for college students and you will begin to see an increase in the amount of repeat business at your restaurant.

Without Customer Tracking, You Can Only Rely on Chance

Customer tracking gives you the boost your restaurant needs to thrive. Without it, you are an island floating in the ocean of chance, just waiting to see what the next wave will bring. Get personal with your customers, and they will have a reason to keep coming back to your place of business.

 

For assistance with your restaurant contact a TRG Restaurant Consultant.

Restaurant Renovation Pt 2: Creating Your Design Concept

restaurant design concept

In Part 1 of this two-part post, we talked about how to decide if your restaurant is ready for a face lift. If you’re still reading, congratulations! You’re ready to modernize your business. Don’t start picking out paint chips and fabric swatches just yet, however – the best renovation plans are only complete with a fully formed restaurant design concept from the very beginning.

Who is My Clientele?

So you’ve decided that your current design doesn’t work for the crowd you’re hoping to attract — but who, exactly, are you trying to attract? Families? Businessmen? College students? Tourists? Every design and menu decision that you make has to be centered around your target clientele, so make sure you clarify exactly who that is before you go any further.

What Do I Want to Accomplish?

Making more money and attracting more customers are rather vague as far as goals go. Instead, consider things like, do you want to completely re-do the vibe of your space, or do you only have the budget to freshen it up a bit? Do you need to strengthen your brand image, or re-create it entirely? Clearly define your goals now, and your plans will roll much more smoothly later on in the process.

What Do My Current Customers Like?

In undergoing a renovation, you run the risk of losing customers who don’t like what you’ve done with the place. It may be a good idea to run an opinion poll for a few weeks at least before you start getting into the nitty-gritty of your renovation. You may be able to incorporate things that your current clients like, and get some ideas of things that new customers may want to see as well.

Who Am I Working With?

Unless you are one of the rare restaurant owners who can also contract a renovation project, you will be working with others to get your restaurant in shape. The right design team can make all the difference to the end result. Our dedicated designers at TRG Restaurant Consulting will listen to your goals and desires to help you design a space that meets your needs, and that your customers will love.

2016 Beverage Trend Review

2016 beverage trends

We’re crazy about all things restaurants here at TRG. Forecasting trends, real time analysis, and review and reporting are our bread and butter as restaurant consultants. With the end of 2016 fast approaching, it’s time to take a look at some of the biggest 2016 beverage trends. No surprise, locally sourced ingredients tops the list (as we’re sure they will continue to), while thoughtfully composed mocktails have been a hit, and renewed fanaticism in Tiki has been a win on both sides of the bar. Read on to check out our full list of 2016 Beverage trends.

 

2016 beverage trends artisanal cocktails

Local and Artisanal Ingredients

The beverage world of 2016 has seen a continued move away from complicated ingredients, preparations, and presentations. Master mixologists with their overdone drinks are out, while fresh, simple, and local ingredients are in. Aside from local breweries and wineries, the likes of small batch tonic, ginger beer, and liqueurs have now made it to the big stage, and we couldn’t be happier about it.

 

2016 beverage trends cocktails

Mocktails

Long gone are the days of virgin daiquiris and margaritas as the only non-alcoholic cocktails options. Mocktails today are being crafted with equal attention to detail and composition as their boozy counterparts, utilizing savory elements such as herbs, as well as more premium ingredients like non-alcoholic falernum.

 

2016 beverage trends tiki cocktails

Tiki

Perhaps in attempt to pay homage to the cocktail kings and queens who paved the way,  bartenders today have gone tiki-crazy. A quick glance at the high end cocktail bars of San Francisco, Chicago, New York, and Boston show rifts on tiki-classics from the likes of Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic. With approachable flavors and ingredients, historical relevance, and eye catching presentations, Tiki drinks are a beverage trend here to stay.

 

2016 beverage trends OAC rum

Rum

Forget the spiced Captain Morgan handle you used to swig in college and make room for the new era of rums. A neutral spirit capable of many forms and expressions, today’s rums are on a broad spectrum with everything from Jamaican rum to Demerara rum and  AOC-protected rhum agricole. Complex and versatile, the past year has seen this once-forgotten spirit back in action.

 

2016 beverage trends draft cocktail

Draft Cocktails

Imagine being able to turn out a whole sleuth of good drinks – fast. Welcome to the world of Draft Cocktails. Bartenders prep and batch drinks prior to service so that a pull on the draft handle is all you need for a perfected composted cocktail. The advantages here are many, speed and efficiency topping the list, but be sure to keep an eye on things like proper scaling, dilution, and clean tap lines.

 

2016 beverage trends lower abv drinks

Lower ABV Drinks

Two martini lunches a la Don Draper are a thing of the past. Guests now are happy to enjoy sake, sherry, vermouth, and wine based cocktails and still be able to drive home. These are great bridges for non-cocktail drinkers, and a valuable tool for restaurants without a full alcohol license.

5 Great Marketing Ideas for your Restaurant in 2016

Marketing Ideas for your Restaurant

 

Restaurant Marketing

 

As a busy operator making decisions about how to best market your restaurant brand often takes a backseat to the day to day business of running your operation. And, in a marketing world that is constantly evolving, learning the ins and outs of new strategies is difficult. Moreover, figuring out how to deploy them for your restaurant may seem overwhelming and impossible. But, armed with a few new and emerging ideas and some straightforward implementation ideas, restaurant managers and owners can leverage the best of the current marketing trends to raise brand awareness and increase traffic and revenues.

Let’s explore 5 powerful, cutting edge ideas and strategies and how you can put them to work for your restaurant.

 

Get Visual

Visual content in the form of videos, animated GIFS and short-form looping videos such as Vines allow restaurants to engage their target audience in a completely new and interesting way. Restaurants have a unique opportunity to create rich visual content through action videos both in the front of the house and the kitchen and through special events, cooking classes, charity tie-ins and community involvement for example. By promoting their own branded video content on their website and on social media, restaurants can create brand building campaigns that raise awareness and invite customer interaction in ways not possible before.

Email marketing, which remains one of the most effective and cost friendly marketing methods for restaurants, takes on a entirely new dimension with the addition of quality, short animation and video content. Look to an email service such as MailChimp or Constant Contact to make creating robust email campaigns easy.

 

Restaurant Marketing Ideas 1

Get Mobile

The mobile movement isn’t coming. It’s here, and it’s here to stay. In fact, mobile searches surpassed desktop searches well over a year ago (see graph) and searches for local businesses make up the majority.

Consumers are making buying decisions on the go making it especially important for restaurant websites to be mobile-friendly. It’s not enough to just be found when potential customers are looking for a restaurant to visit. You must have a website that offers up the information they are seeking in an easy to navigate, “thumb-friendly” format. Your menu, location, hours and contact information must be easily accessible and your website experience must be seamless and smooth. Make it hard for your online visitors and they will bounce off your site and move on to your competitor.

Mobile websites are easily attainable and a responsive site, meaning one that adapts to the device being used to access it, can accommodate simple and inexpensive online ordering and reservation applications.

 

Restaurant Marketing Ideas 2

Get Content

You’ve no doubt heard the phrase, coined by Microsoft founder Bill Gates, “Content is King” and, without a doubt, it still holds true.

There is no substitute for quality content on your website in optimizing your site for search and reaching your target market. Great content is characterized by its laser focus on specific groups and their interests. It must be original, interesting, informative and easy for your potential restaurant customers to digest. Being well written and free of misspellings and grammatical errors goes without saying.

The time and/or money spent creating or acquiring great content is well worth the investment but savvy marketers are finding new paths to great content by encouraging user generated content on their sites. Content generated by your website visitors or social media followers can come in the form of comments, tweets, images, video clips, reviews, etc. Either way, good quality content is imperative to make a solid mark on the digital landscape.

 

Restaurant Marketing Ideas 3

Get Social

Restaurants that fully engage a social media strategy can connect with their customers in a very direct and personal way. Having a strategy for social media doesn’t mean employing every form. It involves choosing which platforms will be most effective for your brand and utilizing social media as part of a larger marketing strategy for your restaurant.

Each platform offers something unique and has certain attributes that fit with particular brands. Facebook is well suited for restaurants because of its wide appeal and range of features such as photo and video sharing, event creation, reviews, groups, chat and presence technology which allows members to see which contacts are online and, most recently, where they are located.

Creating a page gives you the ability to promote your restaurant through both organic means and affordable paid advertising. Creating events allows you to publicize, invite guests and track those planning to attend.

Live-streaming video through Facebook and other applications such as Periscope and Meerkat is a great way to tap into your audience in a spontaneous and meaningful way. You can use it to share live events in your restaurant or action in the kitchen such as cooking demos for example.

Followers can interact with your brand in a variety of ways and the ability to connect social media to your other marketing efforts exponentially expands your reach.

 

Restaurant Marketing Ideas 4

Get Personal

The days of the anonymous customer are over. Our connected society is digitally engaged in each other and the brands they are interested in. How you interact with your customers must transcend the transaction and enter into the relationship status if you want to create brand ambassadors. Getting to know your customers and what resonates with them is the key to developing an effective marketing strategy for your restaurant.

How do restaurateurs gain an understanding of what motivates their community of customers and personalize marketing to them? By mining information from their POS systems, social media interactions and other data which is now easy to access and understand.

Tools such as Google Trends allow you to access data at a local level in order to understand what’s on the minds of your target market. Google Trends is a dynamic and easy to use platform that will only cost you, as a restaurant operator, a little of your time. From this data you can gain valuable insights to help you chart the course of your marketing months ahead and keep your concept relevant, fresh and on the cutting edge.

In the future personalized, relationship oriented, data-driven marketing will become increasingly important so start thinking about how you will connect with your customers in this way.

 

Restaurant Marketing Ideas 5

Get Going

The marketing world around us is evolving rapidly and while it may seem too complicated to engage and understand the long term success of your restaurant depends on you not just keeping up but getting ahead of it. That being said, you don’t have to recreate the wheel in order get onboard. Chances are by better utilizing the tools you already have and adding in some new and exciting applications you can create a compelling and effective marketing plan. Take some time to add some new ideas and applications to your marketing toolbox and watch your business grow in 2016 .

 

For More Restaurant Marketing Advice Contact TRG Restaurant Consulting.

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